A society without consequences (or responsibilities)

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About a week ago I went to the barbershop only to find out that out of the five or six barbers working there, only one remains. Although I’m not friends with the barbershop’s owner, we do run into each other in the gym, so I asked him what was going on. The story’s a little bit convoluted, but it essentially boils down to only a few of the barbers actually pulling their weights, other barbers disliking each other (to the point of having fistfights), and one stealing from the business.

As I’ve grown older and older, I’ve seen a lot of things change. Among them is how parents discipline their children. My parents would often tell me that their own parents would not shy away from what we shall call “physical methods for behavior modification”, although going that far was rare and most of the time a stern talk would be enough. From my own experience, the rules I had to follow were made clear early on, and I knew there would be consequences if I broke them (not going out with friends, no TV time, being stuck at home during the weekends, and so on). Things only got physical when I was very young and almost burned the house down trying to understand why my paper rockets would not fly.

I think that one of the great successes humanity has experienced is throwing away those “physical methods for behavior modification”, and turning to other methods that deal more with creating and establishing responsibility rather than exerting control. Going back to the barbershop story, the thing is that very few of the barbers took their jobs seriously. Most would arrive late, leave early, pretend to have appointments to not deal with walk-in customers, or just not meet their clients needs. However, the business owner also failed by not dishing out the appropriate consequences (retraining, reprimands, firing) and allowing things to get worse as time went on.

This is very similar to what a former colleague told me once. He said we was making plans of moving to Mexico because he enjoyed the place a lot. When pressed on what was done better in Mexico he simply responded with something along the lines of “I can do whatever I want. If I break the law, the bribes are cheaper than the fines. There are no real consequences”. He’s since returned after realizing what most of us know: responsibilities and consequences go hand in hand, and if you can thrown away your responsibilities, then other people’s responsibilities towards you can also be thrown away.

I’m very grateful for my parents, grandparents, and teachers me showing me that dealing with my responsibilities and doing them right brought me better outcomes than just avoiding them or doing them wrong. Hopefully I’m teaching the same lessons through my actions in everyday life.

See you next week!